Monday, 20 April 2015

April Guiding

I was guiding Matthew from Toronto today. We had fantastic hot weather but after about 11am it didn’t prove too conducive to productive birding.

We started in Maridalen which as usual produced some good birds. Highlight for me was locating a Crane (trane) that we repeatedly heard calling and thereby seeing and documenting one on the deck for the first time. We also had two male Black Woodpeckers (svartspett) sticking their heads out of nest holes- one from last year’s hole which surprised me as I thought they excavated new hole each year. We also heard one drumming from another location revealing at least three territories in Maridalen which is more than I have been aware of before. My first Swallow (låvsevale) and Wheatear (steinskvett) of the year were perhaps to be expected but a Ring Ouzel (ringtrost) felt a little out of place in the heat despite this being the right time of year. Per Buertange was there all morning and sent me an excited message that a Bean Goose (sædgås) had flown in with Greylags which we managed to see although very distantly and in bad light and to be honest we saw little more than a compact dark goose. Then just after we had left Maridalen he texted me that a White-fronted Goose (tundrågås) had also flown in with Greylags! This was a Maridalen first but one that I will have to wait for another occasion to see. Both of these species have been associating with Greylags on Bygdøy earlier in the spring so may well be these same birds that have been keeping a low profile somewhere else in the area.
After Maridalen we headed out east to Aurskog-Høland where I hoped that raptors would be prominent which was our best bet for the afternoon with the weather being too hot for much other activity. At Hellesjøvannet we had three Marsh Harriers (sivhauk) with a young male being chased away by an old male who seemed to be paired with a female although the female produced a great bounding areal display over the lake without the male joining her (perhaps he had no prey to present to her?).
Also here displaying Buzzards (musvåk) and a falcon that initially looked like it would be my very own very early Hobby and at distance it ticked lots of boxes including flying in a way that suggested it was hawking for insects (not that there are any at the moment). However when it came a bit closer it was clear that it was a small (therefore male) Peregrine (vandrefalk) and these are presumably the source of confusion for most of the reports of early Hobbys which is a species that normally doesn’t return before May as it times its return to their being food available for it (insects and hirundines being favoured).

Apart from a pair of Coot (sothøne) Hellesjøvannet didn’t produce the more unusual species reported by more productive eyes than mine yesterday.
As usual when I am guiding I do not prioritise my own photos so todays are of the record shot variety.

one of the three Black Woodpeckers (svartspett) in Maridalen today

finally proof of Cranes on the ground in Maridalen - the day's undoubted highlight

the young, presumed 3cy male Marsh Harrier

the older at least 5cy male shown by the paler underparts and very thin black band on the rear of the wing

first Wheatear (steinskvett) of the year

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